Diamonds – In Conflict

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Diamonds are said to be symbols of wealth, status and timeless love; however, there are diamonds that spell anarchy, bloodshed and genocide. These are the 'conflict diamonds' that have become conspiratorial with the killing fields of the African continent. Also known as 'blood diamonds', these diamonds owe their description to the fact that they have their origins in war zones and they are traded to finance the illegal and subversive activities of rebel groups and terrorist outfits. These groups, which control the local diamond trade, could have been fighting for or against a government, but their activities always have the most frightening impact on the civil population of the country. The ordinary people are the hapless victims of the killings, mutilations and other forms of violence unleashed by the terror outfits. The countries which have been most affected by conflict diamonds are Sierra Leone, Angola and Liberia. The military groups that are involved in these conflicts are the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone and the UNITA in Angola; in Liberia, ironically, it is the government itself, which is funding the rebels in Sierra Leone permanently international condemnation.

The blood diamonds or 'war diamonds' have a complex channel of trading and transit. Usually rough diamond caches obtained directly from the mines are used by the rebels to fund purchases of arms and ammunition. Contacts and support groups in neighboring countries are used to help sell these diamonds. Once the stones are polished it is almost impossible to trace their origins or to learn their identity.

Many countries of the world have been involved in an effort to curb the trade in conflict diamonds. Cutting off trade in these 'blood stones' can effectively choke the funding channels for wars and help in putting an end to the vicious strife. Further it is also a fact that if diamond-producing countries can be rid of conflict, they can enjoy the fruits of economic development and make necessary infrastructure investments for improving the legitimate diamond trade.

Some years ago, the major diamond-mining countries of South Africa joined hands in a move to trace the origins of all rough diamonds, in an effort to curb the sale of diamonds from conflict regions. This led to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme or KPCS, which aims to track and trace all uncut stones entering the countries participating in the scheme. Accurate and verifiable documentation is to accompany all diamond consignments and strict norms for tamper-proof packaging of the stones to be observed. Subsequently the United Nations approved the KPCS; sometimes later the United States Government promulgated the Clean Diamond Act for banning imports of stones tarnished in conflict.

With these measures, the trade in conflict diamonds has suffered a decline, yet there are still clandestine movements of diamonds that are eluding legal barriers and finding their way into the diamond centers of the world. Total elimination of conflict diamonds can only happen when the entire diamond industry of the world decides to dissociate firmly from the stones that fuel conflict and genocide. This is a large question of corporate ethics and calls for immediate attention.

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Source by Michael Russell